Kong is King

Today I had the pleasure of attending a training class put on by Kong for Hollywood Feed employees. I wanted to see for myself what kind of training the staff at my local store receives to help me with my dogs! Since this is my first blog post, let me share a little about myself. I am an animal lover! I, along with my husband, have three dogs: Skeeter, age 10; Annie, age 8; and Fitzgerald, age 2. I also have two cats: Fender, age 10; and Ecco Domani, age 4. We have a green tree python, a gecko, and two white’s tree frogs as well.

I was very interested to hear what Kong is all about and what they had to say to the employees at Hollywood Feed. Kong is a company that makes a variety of toys, treats and other products for dogs and for cats. You may have seen their classic red rubber toy that’s about the size of a fist and shaped kind of like a snowman that’s starting to melt. They also have many other varieties of rubber toys, knots, plush toys, toys with squeakers, and refillable treat-toys. Hollywood Feed carries a wide selection of their products, and some new toys are making their way into the stores right now.

At the beginning of the class, Shawn McGhee, the President of Hollywood Feed, spoke to the group of about 65 employees. This included those gathered from all of the stores in Memphis and also from their locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas, who attended via video conference. There is a second class later in the day for the other half of all the employees to attend. Shawn noted that Hollywood Feed does not have a fancy corporate office. The company’s headquarters is located above their Memphis store on Broad Avenue. Shawn’s office is not plush, and there are dogs running around everywhere! He said that instead, all of their resources are put into employee education and training. They want to provide their employees with the knowledge and resources they need to be able to give individualized expertise to their customers who have dogs with individual needs and behaviors. I also saw Hollywood Feed’s corporate staff in this training along with store managers and associates.

Today, Brandon Peterson and Paul Russo from Kong conducted the training. They wanted to share some new products with Hollywood Feed, as well as give employees the chance to ask questions about current products that they have been helping customers pick out for their pets.

I found out that Kong products can help with a variety of behaviors in your pets. They can provide mental stimulation to help your pet’s brain stay more active and alert and better develop, and they can help curb unwanted behaviors such as separation anxiety, destructive chewing, digging and barking. Brandon let everyone know that all of their rubber products and consumables are made in the USA, so we do not have to worry about any harmful foods or materials coming out of China being used in any of their products. He also stated that all of their products are made from non-toxic materials, unlike toys you may find in a grocery store.

I also discovered that Kong especially makes their tennis balls. Their tennis balls do not contain fiberglass on the outside like normal tennis balls. Who knew tennis balls had fiberglass on them?! This is bad for your dog’s internal organs as well as your dog’s teeth as it can wear them down. It seems that Kong really thinks about their toys, the way dogs play with them, and the health of the dogs playing with their toys. Their toys appear to be designed to be gentle on a dog’s teeth while still being as durable as possible. One of my dogs, Annie, is a fetching maniac! Fetching is all she wants to do, and she is very good at it and very athletic. If all three of my dogs are going after a ball at the same time, she will ALWAYS win. It was enlightening for me to find out that there is fiberglass on regular tennis balls, and I have to say that I will never again let her play with a ball that is not dog-friendly.

One of the secrets to successfully using your Kong toys is to read the label, as I found out today as well. I have spent many years giving Annie a toy to play with and coming back later to a torn up mess. Apparently, I should be reading the instructions on the toys I buy (imagine that!) and there is definitely a difference between chewing toys and playing toys. If I want to give my dogs something to keep them occupied, help with separation anxiety, and help with destructive chewing while I’m gone from the house, I should give them a Kong Classic or another toy like it with treats stuffed inside, or filled with peanut butter or plain yogurt, and then frozen. If I give Annie a plush toy and leave, then it will end up in pieces and she may end up swallowing parts, which can be harmful. I learned that it is important to supervise your dog during time with play and fetch toys, and they will then stay intact.

A problem that I hear my friends talk about a lot is when their dog eats too much too quickly. Well, at this training a product called a Kong Wobbler was discussed. It can help with over-eating, eating too quickly, and can provide mental stimulation for your dog. I already have one of these and Annie loves it. It unscrews into two separate pieces. The bottom part has sand in it. You turn the top part upside down and fill it with kibble, and then you screw the two parts back together. There is a small opening on the side, so when you set it down your dog can push it around with her nose. Due to the sand, it will wobble from side to side and kibbles will slowly fall out of the small hole and she can eat them. Annie has so much fun with this toy/feeder, but I will say that supervision is necessary because Annie gets going pretty fast and excitedly with it.

The Hollywood Feed staff at the training paid close attention to the information being given out by Kong, and asked a lot of questions-these folks are smart and they want to know everything about the products they sell so they can answer all of my questions when I come in the store! Your local store staff should now be experts on these toys, their benefits, and their uses, so ask them what the differences between a fetch toy and chew toy are, and what toys will work best for your dog’s behaviors and needs! They are always so friendly and happy to help me with any questions or problems.

I am looking forward to some fun time with my dogs and Kong toys, and looking forward to the next training I get to sit in on! I will let you know what Hollywood Feed is learning about next.

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  • Jessie Isbell
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